Descriptive Study of Continuity of Care Practice and Children’s Experience of Stability of Care in Early Head Start
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Continuity of care (CoC) is a widely endorsed theory-based practice in center-based early childhood programs. Despite its widespread endorsement, however, there are few empirical studies of CoC or children’s actual experience of care stability in infant and toddler group settings.
This descriptive study investigated (1) the national percentage of EHS programs with centers implementing CoC, (2) potential differences between EHS programs with all or none of their operating centers implementing CoC, (3) the number of teacher changes children experienced during two consecutive years in EHS, as an indicator of early care stability, and (4) child and family characteristics of children having different levels of care stability during their EHS programs.
Using the recently released Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Study (Baby FACES) dataset, secondary analyses were conducted using descriptive statistics, mean difference tests, and Chi-square tests with sampling weights applied.
Results showed that 29% of EHS programs reported no centers implementing CoC practices within their programs, and 57% of programs reported all of their centers implemented CoC. The 57% of EHS programs implementing CoC had greater stability of their administrative staff. Results further showed that during EHS, 29 and 34% of children experienced no or one teacher change, respectively, while 37% of children experienced two to six teacher changes. Child and family characteristics were generally not associated with children’s stability of care in EHS.
CoC is not uniformly implemented across EHS programs, and many children experience multiple teacher changes in center-based EHS programs.
KeywordsContinuity of care Stability of care Toddler group care Early Head Start Baby FACES
This research was supported by the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma (OU) at Tulsa with funding from OU’s University Strategic Organization initiative and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Given the use of secondary dataset, this article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.
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